Midwest Living Review
The Magee Marsh Wildlife Area appeals mostly to serious birders: folks who savor a trudge along a trail for the chance to see a rare or indigenous species. For more casual nature-lovers, this wildlife area is still worth a stop. The blacktop paths near the angular Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center building are easy to navigate and offer a symphony of birdsong. The observation tower offers a bird's-eye view (if you'll excuse the pun) of the swampy land surrounding the center. And if you find yourself wishing for binoculars, just borrow a pair from the staff at the Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center (they will trade you for your driver's license). For a slightly more serious birding experience, drive deeper into the park, past the sunny, marshy trenches where birds feed and hide. The wheelchair-accessible boardwalk path not too far from the Lake Erie shoreline traverses under thick trees, through algae- and lilypad-covered swamplands. Turtles sunbathe in exposed areas, and again the cacophony of birds tells you there are more here than an untrained eye will capture. No way around it: It's buggy out here (all the birds do come for the buggy food, after all). But earnest bird watchers and photographers don't care. Truly serious birders can also take the mowed paths winding into the far reaches of the sanctuary. The Sportsmen's Migratory Center sits at the entrance to these paths. The 70s-era board-and-batten building contains a series of display cases showing bird species and other small wildlife you might encounter here. Despite being of the taxidermy diorama variety, the displays are interesting and worth spending a half hour exploring before you head into the sanctuary. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday year-round and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and many Sundays from March to November. Check the website for specifics. The trails and paths are open from dawn to dusk year-round. Admission is free.